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Controversial Fort Lauderdale Millionaire Claims To Be Behind Broward School Boundary Plan

A Fort Lauderdale realtor claims to be the brains behind a controversial Broward School Boundary plan. In a mass email to Broward political leaders, Charles A. King claims he devised the plan to reassign Victoria Park children to Harbordale Elementary in Fort Lauderdale. King took exception with a REDBROWARDreport detailing the team behind the proposal. On Friday, REDBROWARD revealed Catherine Maus, the Broward State Attorney who prosecuted Stephanie Kraft, was working on the plan with school board activist Mary Fertig, one of Stephanie Kraft’s closest allies.

King wrote, “This “brand new boundary proposal” as [REDBROWARD] calls it is my proposal, word for word exactly to a T from the previous year’s process which was not recommended by the I-zone Committee for one single solitary reason, the tunnel sidewalk being 42 inches instead of 48 in case some child in a wheel chair wanted two wheel themselves two miles to school.” REDBROWARD reported the Broward School Boundary Committee rejected Ana Corujo’s proposal to give 50 additional seats at Virginia Shuman Young Montessori to Victoria Park students. A month later, Leslie Brown, Chief Portfolio Services Officer for Broward County Public Schools, gave a convoluted story of how a new proposal  to send Victoria Park students to Harbordale came before the board. Brown claimed Corujo had amended her 2014-15 Victoria Park/Virginia Shuman Young proposal, but the boundary committee was unable to vote on it due to a loss of quorum. Later, Brown would claim a boundary committee member came up with the proposal but lack of quorum prevented a vote on the matter.

Sources told REDBROWARD that Maus and Fertig held meetings regarding the new plan at the Fertig and Grambling law firm.

King continued his diatribe, “I don’t know if [REDBROWARD] is aware, but I’m a fairly prominent Victoria Park realtor myself…the ‘multiple sources’ of which [REDBROWARD] quotes are the Harbordale parents who were meeting with the Victoria Park side to dialog and try to achieve a compromise.  Sounds sinister doesn’t it?  Well it got a lot more sinister apparently when the Harbordale holdout side which is a fraction of the school and community south of the river didn’t get their way and decided maybe [REDBROWARD] could be their ticket to continuing the status quo which is not only hurting Victoria Park but Rio Vista and the currently “B” rated school itself as well.”

While there’s nothing sinister about citizens working on a boundary change, the idea that a public corruption prosecutor is working closely with a staunch ally of Stephanie and Mitch Kraft raises serious questions about conflicts of interest. As Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein told REDBROWARD, “While I have no idea if anyone did anything wrong it certainly doesn’t have the right feel or smell.” Somebody needs to ask Broward State Attorney Mike Satz how this feels and smells to him.


If King is the mastermind of this plan, it calls into serious question the judgment of Catherine Maus, Mary Fertig, and the Broward School Board Members supporting the plan. King’s emails frequently use racially charged language to attack minority schools and neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, police and even school board members.

In a September 30, 2012 email, King wrote, “Maybe if our public schools were made into attractive assets that deliver benefits like exclusive and economically balanced geographic districting to those that live near them instead of the borderless gulag of underclass institution with tiny token magnet programs imbedded in them that we have now.”

In a June 2013 email, King compared a school board member to a gangster. He wrote, ” Who does this School Board Member Patricia Good think she is with a statement like that, Tony Soprano?” In the same email, King explains his desire for boundary changes.

King wrote, “This massive boundary shift is necessary to remedy the situation that many like myself and others who live in Victoria Park who live in fairly expensive homes who find ourselves being told to send our children to a half enrolled ‘C’ rated, totally non-diverse elementary school in a dangerous blight area that is 97.6% one race, a race other than my own of course.”

In another September 2012 email, King wrote, “The solutions are pretty simple, school districts need to be constructed that are balanced economically so that they are not comprised of only kids receiving free and reduced price lunches.”

In August 2013, King fought the naming of Fort Lauderdale street in honor of black physician James “Doc” Sistrunk. “The name Sistrunk Boulevard makes people immediately start thinking of crime, drugs and prostitution,” King said in an interview with the Florida Bulldog.

In an October 2013 email, King attacked Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Bobby Dubose over the renaming of Sistrunk Boulevard. He wrote, “Commissioner DuBose came to our meeting in Flagler Village he told us that the re-naming of NE 6th Street had nothing to do with race and that it was all about economic development for blighted Sistrunk.  At the Carter Park meeting he and all there said that re-naming NE 6thStreet to Sistrunk Blvd was a civil rights issue.  If the re-naming of a neighborhood street against the neighborhood resident’s voted on will can be considered a civil right issue, I ask you what isn’t a civil right at that point.  If enough people want something whether they are legally entitled to it or not, do the city’s policies, procedures and laws go out the window to please this group who feel themselves separate and apart from the city’s rules?”

In an August 2013 rant about a police chase on Sistrunk Boulevard, King wrote, “maybe after a conviction we can disrupt the possibly subsidized or even public housing of these 3 alleged criminals and their families, sending them on their way across the fruited plain to ply the only skills they ever learned  in our schools and community somewhere else.”

In a February 28, 2013 email King even referred to Broward School Superintendent Robert Runice as “an arrogant jerk” and “Mr. No Personality.”

In a July 2013 email King compared Walker Elementary to dog excrement. He wrote, “Looks like Walker Elementary the dog____ elementary school I am supposed to send my kids to as a resident of Victoria Park to be the #8th and  #9th   white students in the entire schools has just reverted to a ‘D’ rating from the ‘C’ rating it had last year.  It had an ‘F’ rating in 2010.  The only reason it didn’t get an ‘F’ this year was because they can only fall one letter grade per year. Why residents of Victoria Park are continuing to be given absolutely zero value in public schools for their very high property tax dollars I still don’t understand.  If I were Victoria Park’s School Board representative Katie Leach I would certainly be actively trying to redistrict Victoria Park to a an elementary school worth attending.  Last time I checked there was only one deranged Victoria Park parent actually sending their child out Sistrunk Blvd to Walker Elementary for the very worst totally non-diverse education high property taxes can buy in Broward County.”


State of Florida corporate records and Broward County Property Appraiser records show Charles A. King could benefit from this controversial school boundary change. King, his wife and his companies under the “CKF” banner own 12 properties valued at nearly $5 million dollars. Under the plan,these 12 properties, including King’s “fairly expensive” Victoria Park home, would be bounded to Harbordale Elementary school.


In April 2013, King detailed his attempts to get 50 additional seats for Victoria Park students at Virginia Shuman Young Montessori School. He wrote, “What’s going on with the gulag of inner city throwaway public school in Fort Lauderdale?  The [Sun-Sentinel] article below tells you what Superintendent Runcie and his willing School Board are planning on doing.  What it doesn’t tell you is what they should be doing instead.  That is apparently my job as a 40 year old native Fort Lauderdaler who is a parent of two and owner of a whole lot of expensive real estate in some very bad school districts.”

King goes on to describe a process eerily similar to the current situation. He said, “I myself got up close and personal with this bunch during the most recent school boundaries change process, a long protracted sham process really designed to give the appearance of an open and fair process accessible to the public. Some I-zone committee was created with 28 votes from around the county.  How they got chosen is anyone’s guess.  We were told that this advisory board’s vote was merely advisory and non-binding and that the real decision as laid out in Florida law was for the Superintendent to pick proposals to put before the board at a public hearing for a vote.  Well that is not what happened at all.”

King states less than half the committee showed up for the meeting delaying any action on the proposals. He said, “To my surprise my proposal was not even on the agenda to be discussed, and it wasn’t discussed by anyone by myself even though it is sorely need due to the 23 neighborhood kids turned away this year, the gaming of the enrollment system and the massive influx of residential units into the neighborhood preference area that runs into the thousands of new units in Flagler Village, Downtown, Victoria Park and Beverly Heights.”

He continued, “I showed up and asked Superintendent Runcie why HE CHOSE to turn my very sensible proposal down, especially considering that Victoria Park’s bounded elementary school is Walker Elementary, a dreadful school in the straight up ghetto that is of course ‘C’ and contains a population of 541 Black students, 7 White students, 4 Hispanic students and 2 Multi-Racial students.  The only reform coming to this school besides the universally free breakfast, lunch and dinner is that the children from the ‘D’ rated Lauderdale Manors Elementary will be dumped into it.”

King even recounts questionable behavior from Leslie Brown. “You’ve also got to love the protestations of District shill Leslie Brown who says below the district’s school-revamping plan is indeed a product of community input. In neighborhood meetings, Brown said, people repeatedly asked for expanded pre-school offerings, and the new schools provide exactly that. The public also wanted children to be more aware of college, Brown said, which helped lead to the Lauderhill Middle partnership with Broward College,” King wrote. “In my humble opinion I have never met a bigger phony and defender of the company line than her.”


REDBROWARD obtained nearly 100 emails where King repeatedly injects race into political issues in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County. These emails are sent to newspaper reporters, television journalists, lobbyists, business leaders, school board members, law enforcement officials and politicians. King is never shy about calling others names or racists.

He’s already called Harbordale residents racists. In November 2013, King wrote, “Most of the racism I see is in the rental market and it is old people who live in Rio Vista and are probably great personal friends with Democrat pols [Fort Lauderdale Commisioner] Romney [Rogers] and [Fort Lauderdale Mayor] Jack [Seiler].  I think you know I’m right not too deep down.”

In a June 2013 email to Mayor Jack Seiler, King wrote, “Due to the tone of your righteous indignation which I have seen before I’m guessing this e-mail no longer needs to be private and surely deserves the world’s attention.  I would instruct you to once again re-read this e-mail and tell me how I am the racist and not the race based politicians and opportunists like yourself playing with other people’s property values on the Commission.  Like I said in the newspaper the last go round a year ago, Sistrunk Blvd is a crime stigmatized named across all of Broward County due to 50 year of neglect and we will not accept it as our new main street.  You could have been a leader and picked a non-stigmatized name after working with the affected neighborhoods but that isn’t your style I guess.  Don’t worry about defending me against whoever has been attacking me, they are probably pretty low people who I wouldn’t mind being enemies with.  If you could take some time off from galloping around Coral Ridge County Club on you high horse, we are having a meeting tonight in Victoria Park if you would like to attend and explain why Bobby gets to dictate on a whim what our addresses will be.”


Insider games, loss of quorum and the same District employees playing similar games, yet Charles A. King calls the current situation a mere conspiracy theory cooked up by angry outsiders. Could those increased property values be clouding King’s judgment? Does King realize his dream of being rid of the “gulag” known as Walker Elementary is closer than it’s ever been thanks to the involvement of Catherine Maus and Mary Fertig?

No doubt King will answer these burning questions in another email diatribe.

But School Board leaders should answer some questions.

Superintendent Robert Runcie, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Dr. Rosalind Osgood, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Patricia Good, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Donna Korn, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Laurie Rich Levinson, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Ann Murray, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Heather Pomper Brinkworth, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Robin Bartleman, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Nora Rupert, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Abby Freedman, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Mary Fertig, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Catherine Maus, why would you support a controversial plan that directly benefits Charles A. King?

Why would you turn your back on the families at Walker Elementary and Harbordale Elementary to help the property values of Charles A. King?

Broward Prosecutor and Stephanie Kraft Ally Team Up To Push Controversial School Boundary Change

Catherine Maus, left, leans over to consult with Mary Fertig, seated on right, during a January 13, 2015 school board boundary workshop

The Broward State Attorney who prosecuted convicted School Board member Stephanie Kraft has teamed up with Kraft’s long-time ally in a bid to change school boundaries to benefit a Fort Lauderdale neighborhood. Assistant State Attorney Catherine Maus, leader of the Victoria Park Civic Association (VPCA), wants school boundaries changed for her neighborhood. Currently, Victoria Park lies within the boundaries of Walker Elementary, a predominantly black school in Fort Lauderdale. For years, residents have tried to gain greater access to Virginia Shuman Young Elementary, the 75% white school in the Victoria Park neighborhood. When a Broward schools boundary committee unanimously rejected a proposal to give Victoria Park students more access to Virginia Shuman Young, Maus and her team enlisted the help of longtime school board activist Mary Fertig.

During the same time period, Catherine Maus prosecuted Stephanie Kraft on bribery and public corruption charges. In December, a Broward jury convicted Kraft of official misconduct. At Kraft’s sentencing hearing before Judge Matt Destry, dozens of Kraft supporters filled the courtroom. To the shock of many courthouse insiders, Destry sentenced Kraft to probation and withheld adjudication. During his sentencing, Destry mentioned the Kraft supporters in the courtroom.

“Destry said he was swayed by an outpouring of support from people who said they were helped by Kraft over the years, before, during and after her term on the school board.

‘I cannot conclude that a simple misstep in your life defines your career,’ Destry said. ‘We’re going to give you a chance to make this right, because you deserve it.’”

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the huge show of support for Kraft was orchestrated by activist Mary Fertig.

In the Sun-Sentinel’s “Broward Politics” twitter feed, reporters detailed Fertig’s efforts to bring Kraft supporters to court. On December 16, the reporter tweeted, “Bond denied for convicted ex-school board member Stephanie Kraft. Despite efforts of activist Mary Fertig to have show of support.” The reporter then tweeted, “Activist Mary Fertig email: ‘Please come if you can to sit in the courtroom and show support’ for convicted school board member.”

Stephanie Kraft and Mary Fertig have been longtime allies. In 1998, Fertig orchestrated Kraft’s election to the Broward School Board. The Sun-Sentinel reported, “Kraft’s team included longtime parent activist Mary Fertig….The group was referred to as the ‘Steel Magnolias.’” Their relationship grew while Kraft served on the school board.

In 1999, Kraft sought permission from the Florida Ethics Commission to work at a law firm which was suing the Broward County School District. Shockingly, The Commission ruled it would not be a conflict of interest. “Kraft, a lawyer in private practice, wants to research and write briefs on insurance cases for Fertig and Grambling, the Fort Lauderdale firm representing Citizens Concerned About Our Children.” Mary Fertig works with her husband Christopher Fertig, an attorney, at Fertig and Grambling.


Multiple sources say Catherine Maus met with Mary Fertig at the law offices of Fertig and Grambling to discuss the school boundary issue. Sources attended two meetings with Maus, Fertig, local attorney Carey Villeneuve and Victoria Park resident Ana Corujo. Sources say Fertig, armed with a thick binder of school documents and maps, presided over both meetings. Sources say Fertig attempted to convince concerned Harbordale Elementary parents to accept a brand new boundary proposal.

After unanimously rejecting the original Victoria Park/Virginia Shuman Young proposal on December 11, 2014, the Broward Schools boundary committee discussed a 2013 proposal which would have sent Victoria Park students to Harbordale Elementary. Committee member Robert Mayersohn stated that proposal was a non-starter due to laws requiring safe sidewalks for children walking to school. According to Mayersohn, the law mandates sidewalks be at least 48 inches in width. Since Victoria Park and Harbordale is divided by the New River, students would have to walk through the Kinney Tunnel on Federal Highway. The width of the tunnel sidewalk is just 42 inches.

The committee never voted to bring the 2013 Harbordale proposal before the Broward County School Board. Yet, at the January 13, 2015 boundary workshop, school district administrators presented the 2013 Harbordale proposal. Leslie Brown, Chief Portfolio Services Officer for Broward County Public Schools, gave a convoluted story of how this new proposal came before the board. Brown claimed Ana Corujo had amended her 2014-15 Victoria Park/Virginia Shuman Young proposal, but the boundary committee was unable to vote on it due to a loss of quorum. Later, Brown would claim a boundary committee member came up with the proposal but lack of quorum prevented a vote on the matter.

Now, according to sources who attended the meetings at Fertig and Grambling, the proposal appears to have been crafted by Catherine Maus and Mary Fertig in January and February 2015.

At the January 13th workshop, “prominent Victoria Park realtor” Charlie King confirmed Fertig, “was helping us with this.” Maus was photographed consulting with Fertig during a lunch break at the workshop.

Even though the proposal had very little vetting and public input from the affected communities, Superintendent Robert Runcie adopted the Maus/Ferting plan.

REDBROWARD has obtained an email written by Catherine Maus to the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. Maus attempted to get the commission to pass a resolution supporting Runcie’s new plan. Maus copied the February 19, 2015 email to Corujo, Villenueve and Mary Fertig.

When REDBROWARD asked when, where and how many times she met with Fertig, Maus refused comment.

Did Maus meet with Fertig during the Stephanie Kraft trial? Did Maus realize Fertig was orchestrating courtroom theatrics in a high-profile case she was prosecuting?

Did Maus disclose her meetings with Fertig at the law offices of Fertig and Grambling to Broward State Attorney Mike Satz? Does Satz or Maus see any conflict with Maus and Fertig working together?

The Broward State Attorney’s office confirmed Catherine Maus is the prosector for Mitchell Kraft’s upcoming trial in March. He faces similar public corruption charges as his wife, Stephanie Kraft faced. Will Mary Fertig gather supporters for his trial too?

Broward residents deserve answers.

(Correction: Ana Corujo was misidentified in a earlier version of the story. Corujo is a Victoria Park “resident” not a Victoria Park “realtor.” Damn autocorrect. We regret the error.)


Catherine Maus email was sent to Mary fertig